Note: This article discusses the indigenous production of VT-4 Main Battle Tank at HIT with complete Transfer of Technology (ToT).
Pakistan’s state-owned Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) corporation has exercised follow-up options signed during its original order for 300 VT-4 Third-Generation Main Battle Tanks in 2017 with China. These options constitute 160 additional units, most of which will be locally assembled with kits imported from Norinco. This increases the buy order to a total of 460 tanks.
Additionally, the HIT has successfully acquired, and implemented a transfer-of-technology agreement and will thus build an additional 110 upgraded VT-4 tanks at Taxila with completely indigenous equipment and components. This increases the total VT-4 order for the Pakistan Army’s Armored Corps to 570 units.
In addition, the HIT has signed follow-up options for a further 110 completely indigenously built units, which will be most likely exercised in the future, increasing the total order in the next few years to a total of 680 VT-4s.
In other news, the Pakistan Army has not signed follow-up orders for the Al-Khalid I MBT, hence production of the second batch of AK-I tanks has been cancelled. The first batch consisted of 110 tanks, which will now be upgraded with a better engine, more armor and an FY4 Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) to increase logistics and production commonality between the VT-4 and Al-Khalid 1. Development of the Al-Khalid II MBT has been put under review and it is expected that the technologies and infrastructure developed for the AK-II project may be merged with indigenous production of the HIT-built and upgraded Pakistan-specific VT-4 tanks.
Of the 570 VT-4s currently under order, a major portion (over 300 units) will equip the 6th Armored Division (Gujranwala) of the Pakistan Army’s I Strike Corps, as well as over 80 units each for the I Corps’ Reserve Armored Brigade and the 8th Independent Armored Brigade.